The U.S. economy continues to outperform expectations as stimulus funds are fueling robust consumer spending. Forecasts point to seven percent GDP growth for 2021, the fastest rate of expansion since 1984, according to CoBank. The transition to a less COVID-restricted world has begun. But for the economy and rural industries, CoBank says there will be no going back to pre-COVID conditions.
Researchers say the focus in Washington is shifting from crisis management to building for the future, and the outcomes will reshape rural economies. Meanwhile, CoBank reports the cyclical turn in grain pricing continued during the first quarter of 2021 and has picked up further gains ahead of spring planting. Farm supply retailers are positioned to benefit from an exceptionally strong spring agronomy season, outpacing fall and spring 2020. The U.S. fuel ethanol sector has recovered, with production running near 90 percent of pre-COVID levels. And chicken, beef and pork all see strong demand and profitability. However, dairy exports are struggling, mainly due to shipping-related issues.